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Supreme Court may rule on Title VII protection for LGBT workers

Employees in New York are protected against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but this is not the case everywhere. The Supreme Court may rule on several cases that deal with LGBT worker rights on a national level. Specifically, the rulings would cover protections offered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Neither courts nor government agencies have reached a consensus about whether Title VII's protection against sex-based discrimination extends to include protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The 11th Circuit found that it did not cover sexual orientation while the 2nd and 7th Circuits found that it did. According to the 6th Circuit, it also covers gender identity.

In October, a memo circulated earlier by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was made public. It said that sex would be determined based on biological traits at or before birth and that other government agencies should follow suit. The Department of Justice is in agreement with HHS and has asked the Supreme Court to consider the cases dealing with sexual orientation before the one dealing with gender identity since the 6th Circuit relied on one of those cases to make its ruling about gender identity. Employers in jurisdictions that do not offer these protections may still want to proceed with caution and make sure its LGBT workers do not face employment discrimination.

A worker who is dealing with harassment or discrimination on the job might want to consult an attorney about their rights. Legal counsel could help a client document any incidents. The next step may be to try reporting the incidents through workplace channels.

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